Silver is shiny, bright and casts that signature metallic glint we all know and love. It’s timeless and trendy, and universally used in jewelry making. It’s a tensile metal combining both beauty and durability. Designers—and buyers—can’t get enough of silver.
Silver will likely never go out of style as it’s been cherished for centuries, with origins of discovery in Greece and Turkey (formerly Anatolia) dating back to 3000 BC. Pure silver is precious but too soft to use in jewelry. Add a little alloy to the mix and voila, you’ve got sterling silver! In addition to sterling silver, there’s also silver plate, fine silver, pure silver, nickel silver, and 925 silver.
With so many silvers on the market, how do you know which one to buy? Are all silvers the same? And what’s the difference between sterling silver Jewelry and 925 silver Jewelry? Here’s the 411 on sterling silver vs. 925 silver.
Sterling Silver vs 925 Silver
You might be wondering what is sterling silver? Sterling silver is an alloy made from 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent alloy. An alloy is essentially the mixture of two (or more) elements taken from the periodic table. Regarding sterling silver, the alloys can include zinc, copper or nickel. While the United States, Europe and most of the world enforces a strict standard of sterling silver at 92.5 silver to 7.5 copper or other alloys, there are other standards. Some countries, including France have a standard of 95 percent, however 92.5 is the most common.
So, that leaves the question: what is 925 silver? Ultimately, it’s the same thing as sterling silver! Sterling silver and 925 silver are both made from the same silver alloy blend, with the only key difference being the name.
Durability and Purity of Sterling Silver
The reason sterling silver requires the mixture of other metals is because naturally, pure silver is soft. Adding other metals to the silver increases the hardness, making it more suitable and durable for use in jewelry and housewares like silverware.
The result of this process also produces that signature silver color: bright, shiny and metallic. The only downfall of this beautiful metal is that it can tarnish, which is why it’s important to regularly clean and maintain sterling silver jewelry with polishers.
The purity of silver lands on a numeric scale, or rating system, based on 1,000. Pure silver gets a 999 rating. In order for a silver to be classified as sterling silver, it must meet at least a 92.5 purity, AKA 925. So, as you can see: 925 silver is sterling silver.
Conversely, metals that contain less than 92.5 percent silver are not sterling silver, which is important to keep in mind when buying sterling silver.
How to Identify Sterling Silver
The quickest way to identify sterling silver is to look for a mark or stamp, called the “hallmark.” Certified sterling silver will be stamped or marked with the word “sterling” or “925.”
You may often come across hallmarks labeled with “STG” “SS” or “STER,” which are all authentic notations of sterling silver.
Remember how sterling silver and 925 silver are the same thing? With that knowledge, you’ll recognize that any item of silver jewelry labeled sterling or 925 is in fact sterling silver!
Sterling Silver in Jewelry
One of the best things about sterling silver is that it can be styled with anything. It’s versatile, elegant, timeless and great for any occasion. From casual dinners to formal occasions, sterling silver adds that classy touch of shine that elevates style without overpowering it. Here are some popular types of sterling silver jewelry:
- Pendants: Jewelers and designers use sterling silver as an elegant and reliable metal casing for pendants to hold jewels and stones.
- Rings: Many rings are made with sterling silver as it’s hypoallergenic and won’t leave marks or irritate the skin.
- Necklaces: Sterling silver is often used for necklace chains and pendants.
- Earrings: Often, earrings are made with cheaper metals which cause irritation and can lead to bleeding and infection. Next time you fall in love with a pair of earrings, make sure they’re sterling silver.
- Bracelets: Add a touch of shine with the flick of a wrist with a gorgeous sterling silver bracelet.
Things to Know When Buying Sterling Silver Jewelry
We’ve learned that there’s no difference between sterling silver and 925 silver, but the same can’t be said for other items in the jewelry marketplace. Truth is, the term “silver” alone is quite complex. In fact, this word is popularly used as a label, when in fact silver should always be clearly identified with a hallmark representing its standard grade and quality.
With that information in mind, always look for the hallmark as jewelers and artisans are legally obligated to stamp their pieces for potential buyers.
If you don’t see a stamp, shop elsewhere. It’s not worth buying a low-quality metal disguised with a coating of sterling silver, which ultimately wears off, looks cheap and can lead to skin irritation.
That’s right, cheap metals can irritate the skin and result in allergic reactions, making sterling silver a great option for sensitive skin. Inexpensive metals like nickel or brass can cause infections, especially with earrings.
Bottom line: Sterling silver, aka 925 silver is hypoallergenic, high quality, stylish and safe.
Which beckons the question, who doesn’t love silver?
Why We Love Sterling Silver
As you’ve thoroughly learned by now, sterling silver is 925 silver. That said, it’s important to know how sterling silver is made and what the sterling silver standard grades are. With this information, you can ensure that you’re buying authentic sterling silver and adding high-quality items to your jewelry collection.
Sterling silver is evergreen; it has stood the test of time, which means it’ll likely always be in style as a jewelry metal we love. It’s darling, durable and diverse, and we can’t get enough of it! Browse our sterling silver jewelry collection to find the perfect new piece to add to your jewelry box.
If you have a ring that has 925 stamped on the inside of the shank, it is the mark of sterling silver jewelry. Specifically, a 925 stamp means that 92.5% of the metal in that ring is sterling silver.
The remaining 7.5 percent is composed of metal alloys, which is a mixture of different metals (like copper) fused with silver to create jewelry quality durability. Fine silver jewelry is pure silver, or stamped 999.
If a jewelry piece has sterling silver plating on it, it won’t be stamped 925. All solid silver is stamped. If you don’t see 925, don’t trust that it’s real sterling silver. If there is 14 karat yellow gold plating over a sterling silver ring, the ring will still be stamped 925 because of the base metal. So, it’s possible to see a yellow gold looking ring stamped 925.
For sake of future confusion, sterling silver and 925 silver are the same. Pure silver is referred to as silver or 999 silver. In the jewelry world, the words “sterling silver” and “silver”are interchangeable terms for sterling silver jewelry.
What’s the Difference Between 925 Silver and White Gold?
While 925 silver and white gold may appear similar to your eyes, there are some key differences. Neither of these metals are pure and they are both mixed with metal alloy. Like silver, the gold purity depends on how durable the gold really is.
Rose gold and yellow gold don’t need rhodium plating. Due to oils in the skin and wear, that rhodium plating starts to fade, leaving a white gold piece of jewelry looking a little yellowish.
Overall, white gold is going to be more expensive than sterling silver, as well as more durable. But sterling silver maintains its silver color, and white gold doesn’t.
Is 925 Silver Good Quality?
Aside from platinum and gold, sterling silver is the best quality of precious metals money can buy. Fine jewelry stores don’t tend to keep their engagement rings in sterling silver, but have many gemstone jewelry set in sterling silver. You can also find two tone gold and sterling silver pieces in stores as well.
Sterling silver is the best quality of silver there is on the market, so make sure it’s genuine sterling silver with the 925 stamp. When cared for properly, sterling silver is long-lasting.
Some people think that pure silver is better quality than sterling silver because it is pure. It may be worth more as a precious metal, but as jewelry, the quality is bad because of how soft the metal is. This is also why 24 karat solid gold jewelry is not found often in the US as well.
Is 925 Silver Jewelry Cheap or Expensive?
Sterling silver jewelry itself is generally affordable. has many cheap 925 silver pieces. But a fine jewelry store like Jared may carry a sterling silver necklace with a ruby set in it for a couple hundred.
The price of sterling silver jewelry depends on if it is just plain sterling silver. If it’s two-tone with gold, it will undoubtedly cost more due to the gold content. This will be the same with any lab-created gemstones or natural gemstones, as well as lab-created diamonds or natural diamonds.
Two Tone Sterling Silver and Rose Gold Hoops from Blue Nile
Sterling silver may cost more if it’s part of name brand collection, like Sophia Vergara jewelry, which is incredibly overpriced for sterling silver, so I don’t recommend buying sterling silver from a high end brand.
What is 925 Silver Worth?
The exact price of silver depends on the amount of silver content. 925 silver jewelry is close to 10% less than fine silver. Also, the value of fine silver changes daily. The average amount can be roughly guesstimated at $17 an ounce. So overall, sterling silver jewelry is not worth much at all.